Green Building Confidence

Alex Green continues to build confidence as he returns from a torn ACL. However, of the running back's 17 snaps against Cleveland, one bad play stands out among the others in his starting debut.

Alex Green slammed the ball to the turf after a 5-yard run that could have gained a lot more. That play, however, wasn't the biggest disappointment of his performance on Thursday night.

"I'm kind of hard on myself. So, the one thing that sticks out for me is the play that I messed up on, is missing a block," the second-year running back said after the Green Bay Packers lost 35-10 to Cleveland.

For the Packers' running backs, the top priorities are hanging onto the football and protecting the quarterback. Green's ball-security wasn't an issue but his pass protection was during Green Bay's third possession of the night.

On third-and-5, Green correctly spotted rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson blitzing from the offense's left side. Green stepped up to get him but barely got a hand on Johnson as the linebacker made an inside move. While Rodgers avoided the sack, he was whacked by Joe Haden at the end of a 3-yard scramble. A fourth-down pass fell incomplete and that was the end of the night for the No. 1 offense.

"I feel like I'm OK" in pass protection," Green said. "I won't say great, I won't say poor; I'm just average. I know I can do better. When I see the film tomorrow, I'll know more about what I did wrong on that one. There are things I need to work on. It's a big thing in this offense because we pass the ball and have a great quarterback, so pass blocking is a big thing for me to work on."

Green, on the comeback trail after tearing an ACL in October at Minnesota, carried four times for 16 yards. His long gain was a 5-yarder around left end that had the potential to be a big gainer had he run with high knees and not been tripped up.

Still, Thursday was another step in the right direction for last year's third-round pick. Green, whose reps have been monitored closely by the coaches, played all 17 of the team's offensive snaps in the first quarter.

"It was a good thing for me experience-wise and confidence-wise," Green said. " Coming back from reconstructive injury, you've got to have the confidence and belief that your knee is the same as it's been. The biggest hurdle to face is overcoming it mentally. The more reps that I do get, the more times I get the ball cutting off my left leg, the more confidence that I'll build."

Green was in the starting lineup with James Starks (turf toe) and newcomer Cedric Benson out of the lineup. Whether he'll retain that role remains to be seen. Green has carried seven times for 19 yards in this preseason (2.7 average) after gaining just 23 yards on 16 carries last preseason (1.4) and 11 yards on three carries last regular season (3.7). Meanwhile, Benson has three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and Starks led the team in rushing (578) and average (4.3) last year.

Green said he welcomed the addition of Benson and the chance to learn from an eighth-year pro.

"I don't think it was a slap in the face," Green said. "I thought it just adds competition to the group. We had a young group before he came. So, it would be good for us to have somebody as a veteran to learn from, bring experience to the group and just somebody you can learn from on and off the field and be a great running back."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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